With how we now have to wear face masks when we’re out of the house, face masks are the new statement accessories and many of us are turning to fabric ones so that they can better match our outfits.
As such, apart from off-the-shelf offerings, many designers, retail brands and tailors have also pivoted to making masks to keep their businesses afloat and sewers employed.
The past few months have seen a variety of fabric masks flooding the market – from plain to batik to cartoon prints.
There is no safety standard for fabric masks now, experts note. A spokesman for German company TUV Nord, which provides tests and certification for surgical masks, says it is widely understood in the industry that reusable fabric masks alone do not provide for particulate (virus or bacteria) filtration.
Still, they offer some level of protection and are more sustainable if you are leaving home for short periods of time or are not involved in front-line work.
The Sunday Times put fabric masks from five local brands to the test via video-conferencing app Zoom.
The judges were Mr Winthrop Wong, director of Wellchem Pharmaceuticals, whose surgical masks are used by hospitals here; Dr Teo Wan Lin, dermatologist and medical director at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre; and ST style reporter Amanda Chai.
Each mask could get up to 20 points – five points each for comfort, breathability, durability and style.
It was a close call between the top two masks – from womenswear label Ans.Ein and retail store Independent Market – which feature similar shapes and designs.
Dr Teo praised the winning Ans.Ein mask for its comfortable fit, “nice print” and being easy to talk through.